The Songs We Can't Escape

Sonic Youth
courtesy of the artists

"It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl"

Hey, weren't we just talking about Faust in this space? And now we can talk about how unrecognizable Alla's cover of the German crew's best-known song is. Seriously, if you stripped away the vocals and titled it something else, no one would be the wiser, like, at all. What's here entices—gliding weightlessly through nose-to-the-grindstone hustle and quivering tones—but, come on.

"Diamonds Liquor Leather"

You could stream this. Or you could snort a line and gobble down a bag of Jolly Ranchers for a similar effect. But I'm not gonna tell you how to live your so-called life.

"Here on the Couch"

These NC boyz are all over the place, a bundle of contradictions. One second they're post-'90s slackercore, then precise folkies, then smarter punks, then they're injecting omnichord grace into sprawled-yet-compact junk-heap tunes that sound like mid-period Pavement demos. Sit on their couch already, wouldya? These Arms are too promising to forsake.


Sometime between Murray Street and, say, Rather Ripped, Thurston Moore's singing voice lost some of its oomph, its fire; the change has been hard to detect since Sonic Nurse because dude's been on something of a murmuring spree and otherwise hasn't forced his pipes as hard as he used to (see '08 solo album Trees Outside the Academy). Bummer, but it suits—and besides, the main attraction of dipping one's big toe into SY jams at this point isn't what's sung or the melodies, but the incidental art-rock vortexes swirling at the points where a given song isn't really a song, per se.

"3 Balloons"

I know, right? This comedian-musician is holding three inflated balloons on the cover of his album, yet the title track's a ballad about smuggling narcotic contraband on an "concealed" balloons. Lynch's shock-shtick is totally risible, but his execution's so dead-on that you can't help but stifle a giggle or 20.

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